Good Morning from New York…
On Saturday, early voting began in New York. One of a series of election reforms advocated for by the Senate Democratic Majority, New York is the 39th state to adopt early voting as an antidote to low turnout. Despite some implementation issues, first reports have been positive. It remains to be seen how it may impact local elections.

In Albany, Governor Cuomo signed 27 bills last week. There are 45 more on his desk awaiting action. All legislation must be transmitted from the Legislature to the Executive by December 31st. The most recent batch includes legislation about “drunk hunting,” a bill to codify the “Johnson Amendment” which prohibits non-profits from contributing to political candidates (a response to an Executive Order issued by President Trump loosening those requirements), and a bill that creates uniform tax exemption policy for alternative and renewable energy as well as other green technologies.  See a full list of the legislation signed by Governor Cuomo last week here.

The situation in Washington is less clear, even beyond impeachment. The Federal Government will shut down in 27 days unless Congress and the White House can reach an agreement on Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are speaking in increasingly pointed terms as House Democrats continue to dive deeper into an impeachment inquiry. If leadership is unable to separate the animosity on impeachment and the need to come together on appropriations, the country could be looking at another long shutdown as the House and Senate head into the holiday recess. Another short term counting resolution is also a possibility. 

Worth noting that a government shutdown would not stop impeachment. Members of Congress are paid out of mandatory accounts and are not subject to discretionary spending. Staff are paid from Legislative branch spending–which is subject to appropriations and would be impacted by a shutdown–but a certain number of ‘essential staff’ work through shutdowns
. In short, a shutdown might change the narrative but impeachment proceedings are coming either way.

— Jack O’Donnell

The Sprint for Iowa Begins This Weekend, 100 Days from the State’s First-in-the-Nation Caucuses

Presidential candidate on stage in front of U.S. flagThis weekend, Democrats will mark 100 days until the Iowa caucuses. Next weekend, they’ll be in Iowa again, for the Liberty and Justice Celebration that kicks off the long sprint to caucus night.  Some years, and some campaigns, have minimized Iowa’s importance. This year is different: Every campaign’s strategy starts with Iowa, with visits there far outpacing visits to other early-voting states. Every campaign has more offices in Iowa than in other primary states, while two candidates (Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke) have more offices in Iowa than in the next three states put together. 

Cuomo Quietly Presses to Weaken his Working Families Party Nemesis

 Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been publicly Andrew Cuomo speaking with hand raiseddismissive of rumors that the push against fusion voting arises from his desire to wreak vengeance on the liberal Working Families Party. 
“There are a lot of rumors, right?” Cuomo said when asked last month about talk that he was trying to end fusion voting. “If we’re going to go rumor by rumor, we’ll be here all day.”  In private, however, Cuomo has taken a much harsher tone against the WFP, which initially endorsed his Democratic gubernatorial primary opponent last year. Seven people — elected officials and other individuals prominent in state politics — said the governor or his top staff have told them or their close associates in private conversations that he wants to destroy the party. All spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Central Park to get first statue honoring women

Central Park has 23 statues of men who left their mark in history but not a single one honoring the accomplishments of a woman.

That will change after a city commission voted Monday to erect a monument depicting three pioneers in the fight for women’s rights: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth. The likeness of Truth, an escaped slave and abolitionist, was added to the sculpture in response to criticism that African American suffragists were initially excluded.

Public Financing Now: The State Must Democratize our Election Financing

voting booths

The financing of state election campaigns in New York could receive a massive overhaul with the help of taxpayer money.

The commission tasked by the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo with creating a system that would match campaign contributions with state money has about five weeks to finish its statutory duty. While there are still a number of pieces still in motion — including the matter of whether the commissioners will be able to reach a formal consensus next month — dedicated observers of the process believe a framework for future elections has begun to take shape.

During six public meetings, the nine commissioners have found general agreement on setting the thresholds at which candidates would qualify for taxpayer support and the total amount of public money a campaign could receive, as well as a plan to drastically lower contribution limits.

Senate Bill Would Complement City Voter Approval of Budget ‘Rainy Day Fund”

Rainy Day Fund Rally

New York State Senator Brian Benjamin, a Manhattan Democrat who is exploring a possible 2021 run for city comptroller, introduced a bill on Thursday that would allow New York City to create a “rainy day fund” to weather fiscal emergencies.

Currently, the city lacks the authority to set aside revenue in such a dedicated pot, one result of the city’s fiscal crisis of the 1970s. But a question on this year’s general election ballot in the city could change the City Charter to facilitate the creation of such a savings account, though it would also need state action to go into effect. That’s where Benjamin’s bill would come in. After years of unprecedented expansion following the 2008-2009 recession, New York City’s budget has grown significantly.